Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have always loved baking. I didn’t discover a love of cooking until after I got married three years ago, but baking, I’ve always loved. Granted, my definition of “baking” before was using boxed mix, I still always loved baked goods more than anything else. As I’ve grown in my cooking skills, my baking skills have grown too. I remember the first time I tried to make muffins. I used a complicated recipe that required lots of unnecessary steps and in the end my muffins didn’t turn out at all. Didn’t even make it to the oven. So now, even though I love baking, I still prefer easy recipes that truly anyone can bake from. Good food just simply doesn’t have to be complicated.

banana-choc-chip-muffins

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Oranges, Balsamic Candied Pecans & Herb Salad

Orange and herb salad with lemon vinaigrette

Hi, Marcella Rose here!  I often find that I make some of my most exciting recipes out of necessity.  Needing to use this or that before it goes bad or to make room in the fridge or because “surprise!”, you have guests staying for dinner.  It’s where I shine because you really have to be creative to make it work.

It is a skill that was honed while being a ranch cook 45 miles from anything for 5 years.  I would open up a cook book and decide on a recipe only to find out that we don’t have half the ingredients.  I got really good at substitutions and clever ways around things and it made me feel empowered.  I didn’t need to be limited by recipes. So strict and to the point.  Why not let your palate decide?  You know what you like, what flavor combinations taste best together.  So tonight why not take off the saddle, untie the reins and just run free?  Make something up, be spontaneous, and try something new! Who knows what could happen, you could invent a new favorite dish!

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Homemade Thai Chili Sauce


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My little sister and fellow Cooking Spot contributor Nathalia of Creatively Conscious was married this fall in the loveliest wedding ceremony up in the pine-dotted Sierra.  She and her husband Loren then took off for an epic honeymoon of honeymoons – to travel the world together for 7 months hand-in-hand. It really doesn’t get any more lovely or romantic than that.

It has been like a dream to be able to follow their adventures through their Instagram “Lov3_is_Key” and their Blog, LoveIsKey.net.  But, better than that, Loren and Nathalia invited family members to join them along the way.  I poured over their itinerary with my husband’s large atlas spread on the floor in front of me, my calendar to the right and my computer to my left, tracing what would be their epic journey, trying to decide where in the world would we fly off to see them, fantasizing about all the wonderful places, the amazing food, the cultures, and the people one would meet.  I knew a few things for certain, I wanted to be with my sister for a holiday, traveling can be hard and so can being so far away from your family so this was a priority. If I could make at least one holiday feel a little bit like home, I would have achieved my goal.  Also I wanted to go somewhere new, somewhere I thought I would never get a chance in my lifetime to visit, an adventure to top all adventures.

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Homemade Vanilla Sugar

Homemade Vanilla Sugar // My Cooking Spot

When you’re baking, running out of vanilla extract is the worst. It’s such a key flavor component — what could you do? You could frantically scramble for your phone and Google possible substitutions. You could make a run to the store leaving behind partially-made batter and a preheated oven. Or, you could have a back-up plan.

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